Michael Harwell (1411), who placed 10th in the state last year, returns to lead the Falcon boys cross country team. (File photo)

Michael Harwell (1411), who placed 10th in the state last year, returns to lead the Falcon boys cross country team. (File photo)

Fall prep preview / Cross country

Coach: Doug Fulton.

2018: Boys – first in conference, third in bi-district, 11th in state; girls – second in conference, fifth in bi-district, 12th in state.

Returning letter winners: Boys – senior Michael Harwell (10th at state last year; first-team all-conference); juniors Thomas Simms (79th; first team), Reilly McVay (93rd; second team), Aiden Donnelly (95th; second team), Cooper Ullmann (109th; second team). Girls – senior Flannery Friedman (85th; second team); Kaia Richmond Swegler (19th; first team), Natalie Rodriguez (87th; second team), Grace Huffman (103rd; second team), Laila Gemerk (124th; second team).

Key newcomers: Boys – senior Sam Baesler; juniors Trent Hogarth, Preston Leon; sophomore Drew Larson; freshman Nick Muller. Girls – junior Jasmin Graner.

Coaches comment: “We (the boys) hope to defend our conference title. (The boys and girls) look to improve on (their) state finish from 2018.

“We had really good participation in summer training and many of the boys and girls are well ahead of where they were a year ago.”

Strength: Large group of returning state runners.

Weakness: Girls lack overall depth; boys lack depth in the sophomore and freshman classes.

Notes: Harwell is seventh among returning state runners this fall; Richmond Swegler is 13th.

The boys return their top six and the girls their top five runners from last year’s state meet. The goal, according to Fulton, is for the boys to finish among the top four and the girls among the top six at state.

In the Washington State Cross Country Coaches preseason 1A poll, the South Whidbey boys were ranked sixth and the girls 11th.

First meet: North Sound Preview hosted by Granite Falls, 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12.

First home meet: South Whidbey Invitational, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 21.

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